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by Peter Knegt
December 5, 2011 9:51 AM
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Box Office: Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Scores In Strong First Weekend (UPDATED)

"Shame" Fox Searchlight

Steve McQueen's "Shame" debuted on 10 screens this weekend for Fox Searchlight and  according to estimates the results were far from shameful.

The NC-17 rated film, which stars Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, grossed $361,181 over the weekend, averaging $36,118. That's the third best limited debut ever for a NC-17 rated film, following Pedro Almodovar's "Bad Education" and Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution." Notably both those films were playing on much fewer screens than "Shame" (3 and 1, respectively).

"Shame" has already doubled the final gross of McQueen and Fassbender's last team-up - 2008's "Hunger" - which ended up with a $154,084 gross. 

"In a dismal down weekend the film delivered the highest per screen average this post holiday period," Fox Searchlight's Sheila DeLoach, EVP Distribution told Indiewire today.  "The NC-17 rating creates a challenge for the movie, but this Steve McQueen directed film is receiving critics attention that should see a long run through the Award Season."

Also opening was Julia Leigh's controversial "Sleeping Beauty," which debuted at Cannes earlier this year, grossed $10,400 from 2 screens for distributor Sundance Selects. That made for a $5,200 average.

Kino Lorber opened "Khodorkovsky" on a sole screen at New York's Film Forum. The film grossed $6,500 over the weekend and $10,024 since opening there on Wednesday.

Among holdovers, Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" continued its triumphant run. Expanding to 574 screens (up from 433), the film grossed $5,200,000 over the weekend, averaging $9,059. That gave the film, starring George Clooney as a Hawaii land baron, an admirable new total gross of $18,087,330.

"My Week With Marilyn," which stars Michelle Williams in a heavily Oscar-buzzed role as Marilyn Monroe, marked one of two major releases from The Weinstein Company heading into sophomore frames. Holding steady on 244 screens, the film grossed $1,180,000, dropping off a fair 33% from last weekend. That resulted in a $4,836 average and a new total of $3,861,206.

The Weinsteins' other film - Michel Hazanavicus' "The Artist" - expanded ever-so-slightly from 4 to 6 screens in its second weekend. The result saw the film gross $205,580, nearly identical to last weekend's numbers. With an average of $34,263 per theater, "The Artist" saw its 10 day total gross stand at $495,939. For a silent film with no recognizable stars, this is clearly a very impressive result so far.

Also in its second weekend was "Shame" star Michael Fassbender's other major specialty release, David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method." The film, which stars Fassbender as Jung and Viggo Mortensen as Freud, held steady on 4 screens in its second weekend and grossed a strong $122,517. That made for a $30,629 per-theater-average, joining "Shame" and "The Artist" as one of three films to have $30,000+ averages, which is impressive.

"A Dangerous Method" - which is being released through Sony Pictures Classics - now has a total gross of $415,880.

Other holdovers included Drake Doremus’s “Like Crazy,” which expanded from 150 to 152 screens in its sixth weekend but fell 38%.  The Sundance pickup, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the festival, grossed $265,000 for distributor Paramount Vantage. That left “Crazy” with a $1,743 per-theater-average and a so-so total of $2,882,000.

Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene” - a fellow Sundance alum - fell 46% this weekend as it went from 113 to 84 screens.  The Fox Searchlight release, which stars Elizabeth Olsen as a woman emerging from a abusive cult, grossed $95,000, averaging $1,131.   Its total now stands at $2,736,700 and its final gross shouldn't make it much past the $3 million mark.

Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In” went from 91 to 116 screens in its eight weekend, grossing $165,000 with an average of $1,420. The Sony Pictures Classics-released film's total climbed to $2,658,000 as a result. Almodovar’s last film, “Broken Embraces,” ended up with a $5,014,305 final gross.  Those numbers are out of reach for “Skin,” though it is not benefiting from the marketable presence of Penelope Cruz.

Finally, two of the most impressive and somewhat unexpected success stories of the fall continued well on their way:

Emilio Estevez's “The Way,” starring his father Martin Sheen, went from 101 to 160 theaters this weekend via a unique partnership between Estevez, Elixir Films, Producers Distribution Agency and ARC Entertainment. The result was a $176,000 gross and a $1,100 average. The film’s total now stands at $3,622,000.

Roadside Attractions also continued to find great news from JC Chandor’s Wall Street-set “Margin Call." The went from 140 to 150 screens in its seventh weekend and took in $226,000. That made for a $1,507 average and a new total of $4,695,000  The film is clearly turning into quite the success story, partially thanks to timing that couldn’t have been more appropriate given the Occupy Wall Street protests. The $5 million mark should have no trouble getting crossed in the next week or two.

Peter Knegt is Indiewire's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

Indiewire tracks independent/specialty releases compiled from Rentrak Theatrical, which collects studio reported data as well as box-office figures from North American theatre locations. To be included in the Indiewire Box Office Chart, distributors must submit information about their films to Rentrak at studiogrosses@rentrak.com  by the end of the day each Monday..

TAGS: Box Office

7 Comments

  • Janice | December 5, 2011 11:53 AMReply

    Where's KINYARWANDA?

  • AJ | December 3, 2011 3:19 PMReply

    Good B.O. for probably one of the highest profiled NC-17 films in years.

    How much money did Fox Searchlight spent on Shame's marketing though?

  • FF | December 4, 2011 3:06 PM

    It's NC-17 so they are pretty limited in even the marketing campaign. Can't show t.v. ads at regular hours or during top t.v. programs, can't advertise in many newspaper sections, etc. So it can't be very expensive. Even on the internet the ads I see most often are from The Descendants and The Artist--Family friendly types. What is working is the possible Oscar buzz and in a reverse manner, the NC-17 rating is making people curious.

  • Simone | December 3, 2011 2:25 PMReply

    What's MORE impressive is that the theater count is only 9, not ten.

  • MT | December 3, 2011 4:10 PM

    Yes, the theater count is 10. Alliance is responsible for the canadian distribution hence, the Toronto omission on the Fox Searchlight website.

  • John | December 3, 2011 2:49 PM

    SHAME opened on ten screens, including one in Toronto. The $110k gross is correct for the 10 screens.

  • sharon | December 3, 2011 12:59 PMReply

    great!!!! all brilliant movies.